lizetta loves

On airports

I have never enjoyed flying but I used to love airports. For some people they are a necessary evil if you want to get on a plane, but they were one of my favourite parts of flying off for an adventure.

Ok, not the queues to check in or drop bags, or the chaos that normally ensues at security – either because the staff don’t make instructions clear or the passengers just ignore them – that will never be fun. But the airport experience used to feel like a treat.

An early morning Bloody Mary with breakfast when flying out at dawn. A cocktail or other drink of choice at a bar while you wait for your gate to be called. I remember bumping into someone I used to babysit for once, though sadly she was just arriving for her flight as I had to head off to board mine.

The people watching. Trying to work out the relationships of people travelling together. Where they had been or where they were going.

Wondering what it must be like working at an airport where everyone else is going on or has been on an adventure yet you know day after day you’re going no further than the departures hall.

The duty free shop, that left the overpowering smell of cosmetics in your nose until your flight had long left the airport. The giant toblerones that seem to be an essential option at every airport, wherever you are in the world. For years I used to treat myself to a swatch watch as a holiday souvenir, until I stopped wearing watches.

That all changed with covid as international travel was greatly restricted. I didn’t fly for nearly three years. Suddenly it felt like airports would be a super spreader location, and I wanted to stay far away. Sitting on a cramped tin can in the sky appealed even less.

My last two airport experiences, in January 2023 when I went to Lisbon and this January when I went to Barcelona, didn’t feel the same as the old days. The joy of the airport experience had gone. Though I’m beginning to think that choosing Heathrow over Gatwick might have something to do with that.

Tonight I’m flying solo for the first time in I don’t know how long. I’ve felt incredibly anxious about this as I’ve not had someone with me to help me relax about everything. What to pack? How to get to the airport? Do I need to worry about travel insurance? It’s been like relearning how to do something I used to do so easily years ago.

Getting to Gatwick was not relaxing, thanks to London buses making a 20 minute journey overly complicated, but once I arrived the stress was lifted. 15 minutes after arriving, I’d dropped my bags and gone through security! That must be some kind of record.

As I wandered through duty free I relaxed. With over two hours until my flight I knew I had time to have a relaxing early dinner, a wander round the shops (I’ll never understand who their target market is as the Lego shop is the only one that appealed to me) and sit and do some people watching before my gate was called.

I’m writing this as I slowly walk on the travellator towards my gate.- another reason I’m pleased I had plenty of time, they always feel so far away. Fragrances of fellow passengers and the airport environment are mixing in my nostrils, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. But I’m feeling relaxed. I’m not looking forward to the flying part, but I’ve switched off from work, have been well fed and watered, and am ready to sit in my window seat with my book ready for some quality time and adventures with the olds over the next few days.

One thought on “On airports

  1. Jenny

    Oh I’ve thought about that how I’d feel like I need to relearn how to go on a plane! Or even like go on a train to London or something. It’s been so many years of barely leaving my own neighbourhood that anything like that feels like this huge thing in my brain now.

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